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Old 06-20-2018, 09:31 PM   #1
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GFCI Tripping

The GFCI outlet in my bathroom seems to stay powered on only when it wants to. Another 6 outlets are powered downstream off this single line. During the middle of last season it suddenly started always tripping when plugged in at numerous campsites and at home. Suddenly by Sept it went back to always okay. Of course by the time we got into the dealer in Oct for various other warranty issues, the problem did not show up.

This year everything started out fine again on 2 trips, but now has tripped at 3 consecutive campsites and always at home. For some odd reason the GFCI does not trip when using my Champion generator.

I have asked my dealer for suggestions - they have no ideas beyond what I already did.

- Replaced bathroom GFCI
- Disconnected downstream power to other outlets. Bathroom outlet then does not trip when it is alone in the circuit.
- That lead me to replacing all of the downstream outlets with a more robust household version. No change
- I am now planning on re-wiring the bathroom outlet so the downstream outlets by-pass the GFCI.
- Will add single GFI outlet to the one outdoor outlet, otherwise none of the other 5 are near water.

Any thoughts out there?
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Old 06-20-2018, 10:20 PM   #2
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The GFCI outlet in my bathroom seems to stay powered on only when it wants to. Another 6 outlets are powered downstream off this single line. During the middle of last season it suddenly started always tripping when plugged in at numerous campsites and at home. Suddenly by Sept it went back to always okay. Of course by the time we got into the dealer in Oct for various other warranty issues, the problem did not show up.

This year everything started out fine again on 2 trips, but now has tripped at 3 consecutive campsites and always at home. For some odd reason the GFCI does not trip when using my Champion generator.

I have asked my dealer for suggestions - they have no ideas beyond what I already did.

- Replaced bathroom GFCI
- Disconnected downstream power to other outlets. Bathroom outlet then does not trip when it is alone in the circuit.
- That lead me to replacing all of the downstream outlets with a more robust household version. No change
- I am now planning on re-wiring the bathroom outlet so the downstream outlets by-pass the GFCI.
- Will add single GFI outlet to the one outdoor outlet, otherwise none of the other 5 are near water.

Any thoughts out there?
Are you plugged in with a 50, 30, or 20 amp cord? If 20 amp cord, you cannot plug into a GFI circuit. 2 GFI's don't work together. Your downstream outlets are in fact near water. Kitchen counter outlets are within 6' of the sink. NEC code. Some brainiacs include the microwave. Outlets in a cabinet within 6' are also included. Livingroom bedroom outlets are not on the GFI.
What makes you think the GFI is not doing it's job? Have an outside cord plug in overnight. Wet dew will do it. Rain will do it. Cheap hair drier will do it. Pay attention to what is being used when It happens. the GFI does not trip with amps. It trips with an imbalance of electric in vs electric out.
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Old 06-20-2018, 11:26 PM   #3
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Check the connections on each downstream / slave outlet. Loose wiring will cause these symptoms. This is an easy, cheap diagnostic step.
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Old 06-21-2018, 12:05 AM   #4
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the GFI does not trip with amps. It trips with an imbalance of electric in vs electric out.

A GFCI measures the current (aka amps) from the hot line vs the return grounded neutral line. If the amperage if off by as much as 5 milliamps (5/1000ths of an amp), then the outlet (or circuit breaker if of the GFCI type) trips to cut power. This protects a person, who may have the current running thru their body.

How GFCIs Work | Electrical Construction & Maintenance (EC&M) Magazine

https://safeelectricity.org/ground-f...rupters-gfcis/
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Old 06-21-2018, 01:03 AM   #5
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Since it works fine with the load side outlets disconnected and all the load side outlets were replaced, I would venture to guess that there is a short somewhere in the wiring on the load side of the GFCI.

This may also be why it only happens sometimes and other times not. Think about it....if a screw or nail has punctured the wiring and barely touching it, it may be fine one day as it wasn't contacting a ground. Then, you drive your trailer down the road, it bumps around and then makes contact causing the GFCI to trip. Then, you drive around again and it vibrates away and doesn't make contact.

Realistically, you've actually done some good diagnostic work in isolating the problem. My guess would be it's a puncture in the factory Romex wiring.
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Old 06-21-2018, 03:35 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by wmtire View Post
A GFCI measures the current (aka amps) from the hot line vs the return grounded neutral line. If the amperage if off by as much as 5 milliamps (5/1000ths of an amp), then the outlet (or circuit breaker if of the GFCI type) trips to cut power. This protects a person, who may have the current running thru their body.

How GFCIs Work | Electrical Construction & Maintenance (EC&M) Magazine

https://safeelectricity.org/ground-f...rupters-gfcis/
Yep, I just put in quick laymen's terms to distinguish it from a normal circuit breaker. Since outlets aren't circuit breakers.
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Old 06-21-2018, 04:17 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by HudsonDave View Post
The GFCI outlet in my bathroom seems to stay powered on only when it wants to. Another 6 outlets are powered downstream off this single line. During the middle of last season it suddenly started always tripping when plugged in at numerous campsites and at home. Suddenly by Sept it went back to always okay. Of course by the time we got into the dealer in Oct for various other warranty issues, the problem did not show up.

This year everything started out fine again on 2 trips, but now has tripped at 3 consecutive campsites and always at home. For some odd reason the GFCI does not trip when using my Champion generator.

I have asked my dealer for suggestions - they have no ideas beyond what I already did.

- Replaced bathroom GFCI
- Disconnected downstream power to other outlets. Bathroom outlet then does not trip when it is alone in the circuit.
- That lead me to replacing all of the downstream outlets with a more robust household version. No change
- I am now planning on re-wiring the bathroom outlet so the downstream outlets by-pass the GFCI.
- Will add single GFI outlet to the one outdoor outlet, otherwise none of the other 5 are near water.

Any thoughts out there?
Before you rip the GFCI outlets out of your RV please get a GFCI tester like below:
Click image for larger version

Name:	GFCI Tester 81XP6KCUv0L._SL1500_.jpg
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Size:	214.1 KB
ID:	176740
Amazon: Bastex Socket Tester with GFCI check

Also I do not know if you use a 20, 30 or 50 AMP power cord. I bought a SSP-30XL 30 AMP surge protector. I wanted the Miswired Pedestal Indication feature. It has some of the same tests a the GFCI tester above & it is UL listed.

Click image for larger version

Name:	SSP-30XL Surge Protector.png
Views:	49
Size:	230.3 KB
ID:	176741
Amazon: Progressive Industries Portable SSP-30XL RV Smart Surge Protector

I think your GFCI issue is related to the Neutral-to-Ground Bond required for a GFCI to protect you. I found out about UL 458 & UL 1741 for Power Inverters after I installed a 2200 watt Inverter. UL 458 deals with the Neutral-to-Ground Bond in a RV. It may explain why you were okay on your generator. A test would be to find a not GFCI outlet at home to plug into.

Difference between UL458 & UL 1741 For Power Inverters
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Old 06-21-2018, 09:39 AM   #8
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I am plugging into 30 amp posts with a surge protector. I have nothing plugged into any of the outlets. It trips the instant I plug the power line into the camper. High humidity or rain does not seem to be a link - trips during very dry conditions also.
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Old 06-21-2018, 09:42 AM   #9
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I already replaced all of the cheap RV style outlets downstream. I had 2 wires pop off just pulling the outlet of the box. I am leaning towards a damaged Romex cable buried "somewhere".
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Old 06-21-2018, 09:43 AM   #10
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surge protector is suspicious
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Old 06-21-2018, 09:44 AM   #11
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I think your guess is probably the most likely. Should be an interesting warranty discussion with my dealer when I suggest he re-wire all my outlets.
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Old 06-21-2018, 09:47 AM   #12
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I have a new surge protector and the GFCI outlet tester. Can't use the tester as the power goes of the instant the power cord is plugged in
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Old 06-21-2018, 12:58 PM   #13
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I have a new surge protector and the GFCI outlet tester. Can't use the tester as the power goes of the instant the power cord is plugged in
Can you still use your generator to test?
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Old 06-21-2018, 03:22 PM   #14
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I'm still hanging my hat on bad wiring based on the fact that the GFCI does not trip when the outlets downstream from it are detached.
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Old 06-21-2018, 04:13 PM   #15
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I have a new surge protector and the GFCI outlet tester. Can't use the tester as the power goes of the instant the power cord is plugged in
You have a wiring problem someplace. It's either a miswired GFI or something downstream. unplug everything downstream. Including the Microwave if it is on it. Are you sure the GFI is properly wired? Line and load blacks and whites are paired correctly? You may have a ground wire touching behind an outlet. Remove all the download outlets and let them hang out on the wires. Test after each one is removed.
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Old 06-21-2018, 06:35 PM   #16
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Can you still use your generator to test?
That part is also a little weird. When the generator powers the outlets the GFCI outlet tester indicates the black and white wires are reversed - red + yellow lights. I get the same reading with the outlets on the generator. The red button on the tester that is supposed to trip the outlet also does not function. Assuming that means I don't have GFI protection when using the generator. The surge protector indicates I have no ground either. Assuming those errors are all related.

Dave
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Old 06-21-2018, 06:41 PM   #17
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That part is also a little weird. When the generator powers the outlets the GFCI outlet tester indicates the black and white wires are reversed - red + yellow lights. I get the same reading with the outlets on the generator. The red button on the tester that is supposed to trip the outlet also does not function. Assuming that means I don't have GFI protection when using the generator. The surge protector indicates I have no ground either. Assuming those errors are all related.

Dave
They are and everything is doing its job. Now go find the problem.
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Old 06-21-2018, 06:48 PM   #18
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You have a wiring problem someplace. It's either a miswired GFI or something downstream. unplug everything downstream. Including the Microwave if it is on it. Are you sure the GFI is properly wired? Line and load blacks and whites are paired correctly? You may have a ground wire touching behind an outlet. Remove all the download outlets and let them hang out on the wires. Test after each one is removed.
I did try disconnecting outlets one by one downstream. I can only get downstream one more outlet. I have decided to temporarily go with 2 functioning outlets for the season. Concerned there might be a damaged wire somewhere between outlets that could short out and cause a fire. Will let the dealer fix in the fall.

I usually only use the TV outlet on that string - will plug an extension cord into the functioning living space outlet if I need to. Fortunately the microwave seems to be on a different line.

Thanks for the input
Dave
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Old 06-21-2018, 07:02 PM   #19
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I did try disconnecting outlets one by one downstream. I can only get downstream one more outlet. I have decided to temporarily go with 2 functioning outlets for the season. Concerned there might be a damaged wire somewhere between outlets that could short out and cause a fire. Will let the dealer fix in the fall.

I usually only use the TV outlet on that string - will plug an extension cord into the functioning living space outlet if I need to. Fortunately the microwave seems to be on a different line.

Thanks for the input
Dave
TV outlet should not be on the string unless it is within 6 feet of the sink.
You need to get all of them hanging out of the wall to clear any possibles ground shorts. Test the circuit with them all hanging out. Diagnostics 101.
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Old 06-21-2018, 08:07 PM   #20
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That part is also a little weird. When the generator powers the outlets the GFCI outlet tester indicates the black and white wires are reversed - red + yellow lights. I get the same reading with the outlets on the generator. The red button on the tester that is supposed to trip the outlet also does not function. Assuming that means I don't have GFI protection when using the generator. The surge protector indicates I have no ground either. Assuming those errors are all related.

Dave

Dave, I am assuming the surge protector is just that, and not of the EMS kind that actually kills power to the RV if a fault is detected...since you are still getting power from the generator with the surge protector showing a fault.


Depending on what type of generator you are using, the open ground fault from the generator "could" possibly be caused by a floating neutral unbonded from the ground, that many generators have by design. Mike Sokol explains this in great detail here:


Generator Ground-Neutral Bonding | No~Shock~Zone


and watch his great video here. He is showing an EMS that cuts power due to the floating neutral, but your surge guard would show the same (just not cut power)





You may want to see if that is an issue with your generator, and get past that part, as it may not be a true problem with your RV. Mike shows how in the video. and link.
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